Coming Home Again

I just bought some books of poetry from the poet Nikita Gill. Whenever I see poetry online, they are mostly from Gill’s work. So I knew I had to buy a book or two of hers. I got them today and sat down to read them.

Guys, I already think reading a book is like making a friend. Learning their quirks, smiling with them, and sometimes crying on their pages. But reading poetry is like coming home again.

I used to write poetry in high school and college, and I thought it was what I wanted to do with my life. Now, I don’t think I could write a poem to save my life.

But I almost cried with joy when I realized that your passions as a kid and as a young adult never leave you. They just wait for you to remember and come home again. Poetry has been waiting for me. All I had to do was find it again.

So, go home again. Color. Draw. Write. Read. Sing. Do whatever that used to make it feel like you are home again. And feel like a curious child once more.

Love,

Bailey

Am I Alone?

I’ve been feeling pretty creatively stunted lately. So I’m going to try to get out of this word funk with a poem:

Am I Alone?

Am I alone in thinking

That Friday is a feeling more than it’s

A day of the week? Because I’ve been

Feeling like a Friday and the date is the thirteenth.

Am I alone in wondering what happens to me next?

Or does the beating in my chest decide what I do is best?

Am I truly alone in a forest when no one is around?

Or is the only time I’ll be alone is when I’m underground?

Am I alone in thinking all these thoughts with no one to hear?

Or is it thinking that estranges me and feeds on my fear?

Am I alone in all of this or is there someone just like me?

Who laughs, who screams, who weeps and writes all of this bad poetry?

Is there someone, anyone, who will help me feel at home?

Come to me, any time, and I’ll make you feel less alone.

An Ode to Adulthood 

Being an adult, I’ve noticed that I don’t have time for the things I used to do when I was younger. Coloring and writing poetry, to name a few. Sliding on slides and swinging on swings, to name a few more. 

So, I thought maybe it’s time I did those things again. But as an adult. Especially poetry. 

Let’s try it. 

An Ode to Adulthood

Wait. 

Why am I so tired?

I barely did anything tod–

But I did write 3 emails

And received 10 more

That I’m now anxious about answering. 

And I did get up

For a drink, for a walk, for a deep breath 

For a return to normalcy. 

And I did clean my desk

Because I was tired of looking at 

Clutter. And then 

I made a list of all the things I had to do

After I get home from work.

And I am tired

Of being an adult. 

Bad Love Poems

I love Valentine’s Day. Unabashedly and without remorse. 

But the chocolates and teddy bears aren’t the reason. 

It’s the bad love poems. The punny heart jokes. The corny movies. I just love when people put their heart into something, even if it comes out bad. 

So, here’s some short poems that I’ve come up with for fun. No judgments here, I hope. But if you feel so inclined to outdo me, feel free to leave it in the comments. 
Your love for me is like a bad haircut. It isn’t what I asked for but I’m living with it. 

Your love for me is like French fries. A little salty and usually bad for me. But I crave you anyway. 

My love for you is like a cold. My chest is full and it’s hard to breathe. 

Your love for me is like the sun. Sort of blinding and it makes me sweaty. 

My love for you is like a little black dress in the back of my closet. Always waiting for a special occasion and not fitting like I remembered. 

Our love is a wrinkled curtain. It doesn’t look good, but it does the job.

My love for you is like lip balm. I’m always losing it before it’s quite done. 

My love for you is a different language. You don’t understand it. 

Our love is a pickle. A little sour, but served on every plate. 

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Life Isn’t A Poetry Reading

This is what normal small talk is like:

“Nice weather we’re having.”

“Yes, but I heard there will be thunderstorms on Thursday.”

“No? Well, I knew it couldn’t stay this hot.” 

And this is what small talk is like when you talk to me:

“Change either upsets me or thrills me. I cried when my childhood swing set was taken down, but have dyed my hair blue, black, blonde, and red at different times in my life.” 

“But I’m not afraid of change. I’m afraid of being here, being alive, for years and years but then realizing that my life hasn’t really been worth anything.”

As you can see, I’m pretty comfortable talking about anything with anyone. (This blog is evidence of that). I wouldn’t really consider myself an open book because I’m still fairly shy, but I do let it all out there when I feel safe. 

I mean, I’ve been reading my own poetry to crowds ever since I can remember. I’ve been revealing some of my innermost thoughts to a live audience for most of my adult life. 

So, why shouldn’t it be any different in my everyday life? 

Oh yeah. Because it 100% weirds people out. 

My mom has always said that I “speak my own truth.” That is, I like to tell you what I think about something. But not in a Simon Cowell way. Just in a “and that’s my take” kind of way. And I can’t really be any different. 

But like I said, people find that weird if it’s not in blog format. 

But do you know what I say? I say let’s cut  to the chase. Let’s be brave. And say what we really feel. Let’s tell our own truths. 

So, when someone starts talking about the weather…

Don’t say “isn’t it nice out?”

Say, “isn’t the sky so blue and beautiful today?” 

Liar, Liar

I am an awful, terrible, no-good, bad liar.

(Now, I understand that you think that I could be testing you by saying this–by saying that I am a terrible liar when I’m really not. But I’d like to assure you that I am a bad liar, and you’re just going to have to take my word for it, which I understand, is suspicious.)

The problem is that I have a glass face. Everyone can see everything bloom on my face like a dark cloud in a bright sky. And I realize that. So, I can feel my lies disintegrating when people look into my face. Heck, I’m even easy to spot on social media. (Nothing is worse than an insincere emoji.)

So, how do I get around lying? Mostly, I tell the truth. Which has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the situation. But mostly, it’s good. I don’t have to remember what I’ve told someone, and I don’t have to believe my own lies. (No, really, Bailey, you totally won’t eat another cookie. That was definitely your last one.)

Where it becomes a really bad problem is in writing–especially fiction. The people who write the best fiction are exceptionally good “liars,” in a sense, because they are capable of incorporating tons and tons and tons of imaginary detail into a life they’ve already made up. Lies built on lies. And they believe themselves and so they know their characters. And, as you already know, lies make terribly good stories.

Now, this frustrated me. Because how am I supposed to become a great writer if I can’t lie? Even about made up things? Even when it won’t hurt anyone’s feelings?

I’ve thankfully found a solution. I’ve found that when I write, I’m still lying, but I’m actually getting closer to the truth. Think about it. Writers may be making things more beautiful, more real, more relatable, but we’re only distilling the truth and showing the world what it really is through lovely descriptions. We’re not really inventing anything–every story has been told at least twice. We’re just reimagining what we encounter and see everyday, giving it new dimensions. True lies can become tangled, but truth is the web itself, a perfectly organized system that will only betray you if you betray it.

In the end, I don’t really need to lie. I simply need to lie closer to the truth.

The Time-Traveler’s Dilemma

Any movie or book featuring time traveling can be summed up in three acts.

Act I: Wow, time traveling. We can go to any time! Any decade! Let’s go meet a famous person! (Which inevitably leads to…)

Act II: No, wait. We need to be smart about this. We need to go back in time and fix history so that we can have a totally awesome future. Nothing huge, just a small alteration…like, let’s kill hitler. Or better yet, why don’t we stop countries from ever being created in the first place? (And then…)

Act III: No! We wanted to stop a thing from happening, but it happened anyway! Somehow Hitler still found a way!

Fin. 

And although it is sad that I can predict the entire plot of a movie or book before seeing or reading it, this idea is sort of inspirational. It can be summed up into: “Maybe if we’re really meant to do something, it will happen, no matter what.”

Which sort of gets me thinking about the alternative: what if famous people in history didn’t do what they were on track to do? What if they failed or gave up? What if the time travelers succeeded and stopped them?

And sure, that would obviously be the best case scenario for WWII, but what would happen to the benevolent artists and creators in the world? What if J.R.R. Tolkien never wrote The Lord of the Rings? What if van Gogh died before “Starry Night”? What if Nabisco decided the world wasn’t ready for the oreo?

It’s frankly a scary thought. Because these things have changed lives, encouraged creative thought and late night snacking the world over. I, personally, wouldn’t be the woman I am today without many of the masterpieces I know and love (I would also be about 10-15 lbs lighter without oreos.) But really, what would happen if these people just decided to give up because the going got too tough? Sometimes you don’t need a time traveler to make you think that you may be making the wrong decision for your future. I’m sure at some point, famous earth-shakers had doubts.

But, you see, everything is a domino effect. There is no decision in the universe that stands on its own. It is because a star is twinkling in deep outer space that a poet dreams, and when a poet dreams, a high school lit teacher is inspired to teach his or her students, and a student suddenly wants to look up at the night sky. There will always be repercussions and consequences to every action, but there are some things that are too good to live without.

So, the next time you feel that it would be easier to give in and give up, think about the time traveler’s dilemma: if it is meant to happen, it will happen anyway, despite and because of yours, or anyone’s, best efforts. And you never know who you may inspire as a result of it all.

You Need to Get Good at Dying

Okay, let’s all practice now. Hold your breath until you turn blue in the face. Do this until you feel like you can do it on command. Congratulations! Keep doing it, and you’ll be good at dying in no time!

(Please, tell me that you know I’m kidding. I don’t need any of my readers dropping dead on me. What if you die before hitting the “like” button?)

But still, you should get better at dying in a metaphorical sense. And what could I possibly mean by that? I simply mean that you need to get good at saying goodbye, at leaving it all behind, and starting over. Because you are going to be doing that a lot in life, not only with other people, but more often, with yourself.

Let’s see if this scenario is familiar: a person from your past or slightly distant present has a beef with you over something. Whether you forgot to text him/her last night or you weren’t keen to listen to their latest drama-filled story, you brushed them off, accidentally. What is the first stone thrown in the argument that ensues? You’ve changed. The old (insert your name here) wouldn’t act this way. The old (insert your name here) was my friend. 

Except, what that other person is really saying is that you are not acting in accordance with how he or she thought you should act. How dare you not stick to the script of your own life!

Which is just about as ludicrous as it sounds. You, believe it or not, are going to die a few “deaths” in your lifetime. You, though your friend may not believe it, are going to change, radically. You may have already “died” a few times already, as you had to reinvent yourself to survive. When you first experienced heartbreak, when you moved out of your parents’ house, when you lost someone who was close to you, etc.

Now, anyone who has lost someone dear to them can tell you that they are never really gone. We carry them with us because they’re bodies were too tired to carry the weight of their full soul. And that is what will happen to you. You will die, in a sense, but continue to live. You will say goodbye to the person that you once were, but you will never lose them. You will simply tuck that part of you away, for safekeeping.

And you should. Humans, by nature, have to adapt. We need to be able to keep changing and growing with our environment. It would be a real, true sort of death if we weren’t able to do that. If we weren’t able to keep going after we thought life had ended for us.

Of course, I’m sure you’re worried about losing yourself in this dying in life process. What if I shed a layer of myself that I wanted to keep? Well, put simply, everyone has a lighthouse inside them. The seas of our souls can get stormy, and they can obscure the lighthouse, sometimes the ocean spray can put the light out altogether. But you can and will relight them.

You see, people fall in love with each other’s lighthouses. That is to say, people fall in love with the core of who they are, not who you are or who you were or who you will be. They fall in love with something far less tangible and far more constant.

In the end, you need to get good at dying. You need to recognize that you will never live forever as the person that you are, but that you will build and create yourself, the person you were always meant to be. The sooner you say goodbye, the easier it will be to begin anew. Like the tides that meet the shore, you will fade and ebb and then surge and surge again. You can rely on this cycle, as so many boats out to sea rely on you.

That is Not What I Meant At All; That is Not It, At All.

That is one line in “The Love Song by J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot.

It’s a gorgeous poem, and if you get a chance, you should read it. (I’ll even pardon you if you must leave this blog to go read it. But you should come back because I have other things to say.)

Although the poem has such gems as Do I dare disturb the universe? or In the room the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo, the most powerful line for me is the one I’ve inserted into the title.

Because it’s absolutely mad.

I mean, you have to be a famous poet to write that line. To suggest that when people misinterpret what you say, you will have the chance to correct them. Wow. I mean, that deserves some applause. “That is not what I meant at all; that is not it, at all.” Do you know how the world replies to that? Too bad.

Because everyone is off and judging before the word “go.” Anything you ever write or say or do is going to be misinterpreted and misjudged. Whether you meant anything by it or not, people will read between the lines that you never intended. I wish there was a nicer way to say this, but chances are you will never give off the impression that you want. Meaning is not for you to hold on to; it is for the world to decide.

So, if it doesn’t matter what you mean, why am I telling you this? If you can never make people understand your exact vision, then what’s the point?

The point is you can’t hide because you aren’t sure of the impression you will make. Simultaneously, you cannot try to tell people that they aren’t understanding you correctly. Because that’s an endeavor in futility. It’s like standing in a modern art museum and trying to convince everyone that every piece deserves to be there. It’s simply not happening. Besides, in everyone’s minds, they are the masterful painter of their own reality, not you.

So, let people think what they will, and try your best not to correct them. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, whether you believe it or not.

Make Art or Make Babies

I’m going to tell you the secret of life. Plain and simple. No climbing to the top of a wisdom mountain to hear it, either.

It’s this: Try to do the best you can, and make the best of every situation.

If you can do that, you can look back on your life and feel good about it.

The trick is to actually remember this and practice it daily. Because how often do we slip into a foul mood that we are unable to get out of? (Like last night’s post?) How often do we forget that we don’t have enough time on this Earth to hate anyone or anything? There isn’t enough time to do anything so time-consuming as hate, really. We can only live, love, and die.

For me, I’ll just live, pay back my loans, and then die. I’m kidding. (Sort of.) But while we shouldn’t have to feel that death is rollerskating behind us all the time, we should still be very aware that there is never enough time for us to dawdle when it comes to pursuing our dreams.

We just have to do the best we can, and make the best of it.

So, the question is no longer, what would you do if you could not fail. It’s what do you want to do right now? Because that’s all the time we have, folks. That’s it. And if you’re not going for it, then what are you doing?

(By the way, is it getting hot in here? My heart is racing, and I’m sweating…I’m giving myself my own third degree…)

And by the way, people are going to try to put this question to you in a lot of different ways. The worst way it has ever been put to me is in the following fashion: “Make art or make babies.” This assumes three things about you before the word “go.”

1. It assumes you want to make art.

2. It assumes you want to make babies.

3. It assumes that you can’t do both.

Which, for some people, is correct. But why do I have to choose? Why does anyone have to choose between their dream and their lifestyle?

“Oh yeah. Because we have to make money to eat because if we don’t we die,” says Logic.

“But…if we don’t make art? Don’t we ‘die,’ then too? Creativity has to have a symbolic host that it can flourish in. And raising a new generation can be equally rewarding. It literally needs a host it can flourish in,” says Bailey.

Hmmm, good point. So, scratch that last secret to life. Here’s my new theory:

Do whatever the hell you want to do.

Yup. Just remember that you don’t have a lot of time to do it in. So, er, speed it up. But don’t rush greatness…Uh…Okay, let me try this secret to life thing again…

Do whatever the hell you want to do and take however long you want to do it.

There. I think that about sums it up.

Because the point is, this is your life. I’m sorry, but no proverb or timely quote is going to tell you how you should live it. Of course, it would be absolutely amazing if you pursued your passion. But if you can’t do it full time or you can’t do it right now, then find some other way to do it. Just make sure you are happy. No one said you had to travel the world in your twenties, after all. Our youth-obsessed culture may make you feel that way, but they’re wrong. You’re at the actual helm of the ship, remember? So, you can decide how and when you live your life.

We put too much pressure on ourselves as it is, let alone factoring in when we will die and what we have to cross off the bucket list to get there. If we are going to leave this earth, there’s no stopping us.

So, make the best of it, then. Make the best of your art or your babies.

And read my poem on the topic below.

Make Art or Make Babies

Make art or make babies?

It’s never been put to me so

sharp and so blunt

at the same time. Now I know

my inspiration drips like

candle wax, slithering

emptying my tributaries 

seeping down into 

one final puddle,

leaving me arid.

But I don’t want to choose.

I want to believe that I have

enough stardust for both.

My children won’t be tabula rasas.

Their faces will be rife with blue swirls

ranging and stretching

like tree rings.

Starry night is on the folds of their brains;

on their cat scans.

And Guernica helps them breathe at night

their lungs shallow enough to take in

the disjointed pieces as one.

Their pastel smiles

and oil eyes

their paint brush lashes

and watercolor hearts

make me sigh with the craft

of the fifties housewife.

My motherly instinct croons in the moonlight

wailing that the world might 

be excited to see them.

They are only 

white canvasses on the inside

cut clay

leaning easels

and will be exactly who the universe wants them to be.

Except for a few masterpieces, I hope to imbue

they have many gilded frames to hang.

I am only a conduit in

this world but if I get the

chance to create something

of my own instead of 

letting the atmosphere wash and submerge me

I will paint this town red,

and my children even redder.

Thanks, as always, for reading.